Which countries are most belligerent?

Warmongering USA as a nightmare in Europe

At the start of the Munich Security Conference, the world is more tense than it has been for a long time. Voices calling for rearmament in Europe are increasing.

(dpa) From February 16 to 18, around 600 politicians, managers and mediators will meet to discuss the Munich Security Conference. The focus is on European issues such as “Brexit”, but international conflicts such as the civil wars in Syria and Ukraine are also discussed. And at the beginning especially the controversial politics of the USA since the inauguration of the Republican President Donald Trump.

The picture of the situation that Wolfgang Ischinger paints at the beginning of the Munich Security Conference could hardly be more gloomy. The risk of a military confrontation between the USA and Russia is higher than it has been since the end of the Soviet Union, warns the former diplomat and organizer of the top political meeting. The mistrust between the military leadership in Washington and that in Moscow is "abysmal". Under President Trump, the USA tried “more and more often not only to threaten weapons, but to actually practice the use of weapons in order to enforce its own interests”. “The risk of misunderstandings, think of what is going on in and around Syria, think of what is going on in and around North Korea, the risk of miscalculations and unintentional escalation maneuvers is greater than I have remembered over the past 30 years »Says Ischinger.

Provocations such as Trump's exchange of blows with the North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un over the biggest nuclear button, but also the US decision to unilaterally recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, confirm the fears of the critics. An America that tends to fuel conflict rather than working on solution strategies, an America that is scaling back support for development aid and the United Nation as part of the “America first” policy. All of this is a reality at the beginning of 2018.

Europe is preparing for the worst case scenario

However, it is also a reality that the European partners are no longer just looking on in silence. As the opening speaker of the security conference, Federal Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen (CDU) criticized the course of the USA on Friday. It is now a matter of building a Europe that can also put more weight on the scales from a military point of view, she says. The planned establishment of a European defense union is to serve as a means to an end. The project was started last December with the decision for a new military cooperation, called Pesco. It is intended to make the EU more flexible and independent of the USA - for example with a view to possible peace missions in Africa. For years, the US has asked Europe to become more involved in defense issues.

At the start of the conference, Federal Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel (SPD) also called for a more self-confident approach to military power. Military operations should therefore not be an absolute taboo for Europe. "Europe must become a flexitarian who occasionally allows meat consumption and must not shy away from military power, but gives priority to civilians."

No double structures in defense

In the US, meanwhile, the EU's new ambitions are causing unease. Shortly before the start of the security conference, Defense Secretary James Mattis demanded a written guarantee from the EU that it would not build up duplicate structures in the field of defense. It must be specified in EU documents that the common defense is a NATO task. “Exclusively a NATO task,” he added.

What are these statements about? In the EU there is speculation behind the scenes that the US might be more concerned with the interests of the American defense industry than with the fear of more European independence. The plans for the Defense Union also include the establishment of an armaments fund worth billions, which is intended to increase the efficiency and competitiveness of the European defense industry. So far, US companies have been earning splendidly from orders from EU countries. Mattis cannot be questioned publicly about such allegations at the security conference. In contrast to most other politicians, he only travels for background talks to the security conference, which will last until Sunday. An appearance on the podium is not planned.